By Connor Steel
FLEETLANDS FC’S dream of Wessex League promotion moved a step closer as they were ‘provisionally’ promoted to the Premier Division One, with the news coming as draft allocations for the 2022-23 non-league pyramid were released by the Football Association on Thursday. Although not fully confirmed it should now end a short but nervous wait following the final games almost a fortnight ago.
Despite finishing just third in the Hampshire Premier League the Coptermen have been provisionally promoted because their pitch had passed an earlier stadium grading and met league criteria; as they finished in the top six sides of their division following a brilliant end to the campaign to leapfrog Moneyfields Reserves in the table. They join Dorset Premier League side Hamworthy Recreation in being allocated a slot in the Wessex League for next season.
Promotion means that Fleetlands rise to step six in the non-league pyramid for the first time in their club history and feature in a twenty team Division One league; with games against Petersfield, Amesbury, Andover New Street and Millbrook all proving exciting ties for the Coptermen with fixtures due to be released in just six weeks’ time at the latest.
It should be said that promotion hasn’t yet been guaranteed with the FA Council yet to ratify the allocations proposed, with some clubs likely to appeal their positions due to travel issues or other reasons across the UK. However it is believed that the vast majority of Wessex League clubs aren’t set to appeal this new structure as they have played in the two divisions already with only three proposed changes for 2022-23.
And in preparation for their almost certain journey to a higher league the club have announced a rebrand of their Lederle Lane ground following a sponsorship deal; with their home stadium being renamed to the Powder Monkey Park. New signs have been erected outside the ground and inside designed by Grapefruit Graphics, as seen in the above photograph.
Fleetlands have also released news of tweaks to their managerial structure for the new season as Dan Greenwood signed a deal to become first team boss, with his co-manager Chris Blakeman switching to become the reserves’ manager. Joining Greenwood will be assistant boss Seth Puckett, who has joined from Fareham Town and hosts many years of Wessex League experience.
Harry Bascombe will be joining Howard Dove in the backroom team, acting as coaches for the first team as they look to avoid immediate relegation come April 2023. But the Coptermen are looking to hire an official Director of Football with a job description available on the club’s Twitter account.
The club also took the moment to thank all fans, staff and volunteers for their help in getting them to the Wessex League if approved; dedicating their success to their former president and stalwart George Mason who passed away last summer just days after a charity football tournament in his honour to celebrate 30 years of association with the Coptermen.
PICTURED BY FLEETLANDS FC: Sign located at entrance to newly named stadium Powder Monkey Park.